Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Up a River and then Reunion Time in Croatia ..... August 2009

07 - 12 August 2009

***Inland to the waterfalls in the Krk National Park at Skradin, apparently this is about half the flow of 2 months ago. There were hundreds of people in swimming, enjoying the cool water, some of them "naturists", yes there is a bare bum or two in the photo in this family environment!! ***

More light northerly winds and flat seas allowed us another leisurely sail further up the Croatian Coast, with many small islands so close to the coast it actually makes going to windward and tacking much more entertaining as we have targets to avoid, sights to see enroute and usually someone else heading in our general direction that Mark can "race" against which keeps him amused.

We could see quite alot of smoke in the distance and as we neared the entrance to the Inland Waterway where
Skradin lies at the head, we could see a forest fire raging inland. We were treated to an interesting display as 3 aeroplanes continually circled, swooped down over the sea into flat water between the mainland and one of the islands, somehow scooped up seawater into something we couldn't see, then headed inland to drop it on the fire. It worked well and soon the fire was completely under control. Most boats had enough sense to alter route and give the planes enough room to come down, but of course not all!

Skradin is in the Krk National Park, about 9 miles inland up a very scenic river and lake system. There is a small anchorage in shallow water where we anchored, leaving just enough room for the constant stream of ferry boats that ply the water from here up to the waterfalls, carrying many a tourist. Skradin is a compact little old town, showing many a scar from the recent Serbian invasion - buildings with some big holes blasted in them, the church damaged from bombings left unrepaired as a timely reminder of the war. There is a tiny riverfront area with small cafes and it generally had a very relaxed, low key holiday feel to it. We enjoyed a couple of meals out with David and Sheryle on Samsara and we also fitted in a free concert in the town square listening to a famous Croatian Male Choir, they were excellent.

We took the ferry up to the falls. It is a heavily wooded area with walking paths and wooden boardwalks throughout, most following the many streams that flow through and join together, then tumble down over the huge boulders. It was really lovely, even with around two thousand other people there -no exaggeration. Must be quite a money spinner at 95kuna (14euro) per person entrance fee.

Leaving Skraden it was time to party, at last we were close enough to organise a rendezvous with some of the boats on their way south again and on our morning radio net we organised to meet at the deserted island anchorage of
Potkucina. Silly us, hadn't someone said last week that it was a pay anchorage in the middle of nowhere - but we were all to excited at meeting up again that none of us put two and two together and came up with many kuna in anchoring fees!!

We mot
ored down the river and then sailed out, again in light winds and flat seas, except for the ever present power boat wakes.
Now I know we have had a few grumbles about cruising in Croatia and I expect it gets worse in the western med but the wash created by the many power boats here really is an ongoing problem. The large power superyachts aren't too bad, they normally have a professional skipper and don't actually go too fast, its the ones under around 60 feet that have very little regard for any other craft on the water, from people lying on lilos, small fishing craft, families in dinghies through to larger boats like us. They go by at speed, creating wakes that could be mistaken for tsunamis at times with large breaking waves. They slow down approaching anchorages, but when they have been travelling at 40 knots, 15 knots through an anchorage is slow for them, they truly are a pest and at times dangerous. Right, that's another gripe out of the way.

So back to Potkucina, a delightful lagoon type anchorage sheltered from all directions by a maze of little islands. It was in the middle of nowhere, there was a tiny restaurant ashore with a handful of tables but nothing else except for about 50 mooring buoys, all in the shallower water!! Destiny, an English boat we had met had been there 3 times previously, most recently just a week prior and there had been no buoys then - someone had been busy. Our first night there was lovely, all the buoys were taken and there were several other yachts at anchor but it was a big enough anchorage for all. No one came to us for money, of course we still weren't expecting them. Next day Gone with the Wind and Argos arrived on their way south, we came up the Red Sea last year with them both and it was great to catch up again. Happy hour on Balvenie saw both of them along with Samsara, also a 2008 Red Sea veteran and Destiny and Kirribilli new friends having a great time until, you guessed it, the anchor fee collector arrived. Well if you ever thought this might all be a scam he did nothing to change our minds. No uniform, no ID, no official markings on his dinghy and he had his young child with him who was about 5 years old, and of course no town within a couple of miles. He had been to all the mooring buoys and fair enough you should pay for them, but he wanted 200 kuna per boat from all of us. Well after much discussion, including a very long phone call to someone else we still all refused to pay and were advised that we would all be fined 2000 kuna each in the morning, who knows who by!! It didn't spoil our evening together but again it makes you focus on the more negative points of Croatia, instead of enjoying all the great things it has to offer.

Of course we all left next morning which was a shame as it had been a good night and too short a time to all be together again. We set sail back to the mainland along with Gone with the Wind to the small cove of Kosirina, another lovely spot with a large camping ground ashore. Now this was an interesting one - the camping ground had optional nudity. Maybe we are just too prudish but I still can't get used to seeing a mum and dad lying back on sun loungers, while the grandparents play with grandchildren at the waters edge - all in the nuddy, while a few feet away the family next to them has their swimwear on, all a bit bizarre really but we are getting used to it!!

Skipper and I had a breakfast board meeting on Balvenie the following morning trying to decide whether to continue travelling north, ultimately to Venice or to turn around here and start heading on back south, calling at all the places we had missed on our journey north. We have both been to Venice before and although keen to go again decided we would rather visit by land in the off season, the decision was made, it was turn around time. We farewelled GWTW as they were heading to Skraden, lifted anchor and pointed the bow down the coast.

Cruising info for Skradin, Potkucina and Kosirina - Croatia:
Anchorages -
Skradin ... 43 48.875N 15 55.468E 4.4m mud Fits about 10boats but several stern tied close by before the anchorage. No charge made, only pay park fee if you visit the falls
Potkucina ... 43 41.807N 15 39.894 16m sand Shallower spots available closer in shore. Be prepared to pay if you get unlucky
Kosirina ... 43 47.662N 15 36.522 11.5m sand and weed
Internet - Skradin had a couple unlocked. The others no signal at all
Money and Provisions - Everything at Skraden. Nothing at Potkucina. Very limited store at Kosirina
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